2021 set to be a record year for British beaver releases
The Wildlife Trusts is set to release a record number of Eurasian Beavers across Britain 2021.
Plans developed by Wildlife Trusts of Dorset, Derbyshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Nottinghamshire and Montgomeryshire will see new beaver families moving into these counties for the first time, with around 20 individuals set to be reintroduced.
The first two beavers have already been freed into the Dorset countryside earlier this month. In Derbyshire, two beaver families and their kits will be released this year into a 12-ha enclosed area of Willington Wetlands reserve in the Trent valley following a very successful fundraising campaign and feasibility studies. Beavers will help to increase the water storage capacity of the nature reserve.
In neighbouring Nottinghamshire, at least four beavers will be released into a huge enclosure at Idle Valley Nature Reserve. This will be part of a project to harness the power of natural processes to transform what is already one of the best inland nature-watching sites in the region. Subject to a successful licence application, the Trust plans to release beavers on the Isle of Wight for the first time.
And, in Mid Wales, a pair will be released at Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve, Montgomeryshire – the first officially licensed release of beavers in the country. The beavers will play a vital role in managing invasive willow and scrub which threatens wetland areas of this lowland bog. An application with supporting information has been submitted to Natural Resources Wales for their decision and it is hoped the beavers will be released this spring.
Eurasian Beavers will be released in five British counties this year (David Parkyn / Cornwall Wildlife Trust).
The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of beaver reintroduction and projects in Britain ever since Kent Wildlife Trust released the first pair into a fenced area of fenland in 2001, followed by the Scottish Beaver Trial in 2009. The Wildlife Trusts have also been involved in beaver reintroductions and projects in Argyll, Devon, Cornwall and Sussex, with more recent releases in Cheshire and Cumbria.
The industrious herbivores are native to mainland Britain but were hunted to extinction in the 16th century by people who wanted their fur, meat and and scent glands. The loss of beavers led to the loss of the mosaic of lakes, meres, mires, tarns and boggy places that they were instrumental in creating. Their ability to restore and maintain important wetland habitats is why reintroducing this species is so important.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, commented: "Beavers are a fantastic keystone species that have a hugely important role to play in restoring nature to Britain. It's brilliant to see Wildlife Trusts across the UK ensuring a better future for wetlands and for a wealth of other wildlife by bringing back beavers whose engineering capabilities inject new life into wild places. The benefits for people are clear – beavers help stop flooding downstream, filter out impurities and they create new homes for otters, water voles and kingfishers. What's more, people love seeing them and their presence boosts tourism in the countryside.
"We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world which is why we have a big ambition to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030. We're calling on the government to come up with an ambitious strategy to enable beavers to return to help tackle the climate crisis and improve wetlands for wildlife."
Five years of research by Devon Wildlife Trust has shown that beavers bring a valuable range of improvements for people and wildlife. As well as creating and enhancing a range of wetland habitats, the channels, dams and wetlands that beavers engineer hold back water after heavy rain, helping to reduce the risk of flooding. Beavers' activities also prevent soil being washed away after rainfall – their dams filter water, cleaning it and reducing pollution downstream.
Find out more at www.wildlifetrusts.org/saving-species/beavers.